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Certainly many of you have heard the chatter about ESPN Announcer Brent Musburger’s comments about the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron during the BCS National Championship game January 7.
ESPN and Musburger have apologized for his vivid commentary about Katherine Webb’s physical beauty when the camera flashed to her in the stands.
Webb is Miss Alabama and few would argue that from society’s standards of physical beauty, the woman is strikingly gorgeous.
I was watching the game live with my husband and our sons, ages 14 and 8.
Instead of vilifying Musburger (who I imagine in hindsight would have re-thought his words before they came out of his mouth), I want to thank him for serving up a FABULOUS teachable moment with my sons, particularly my 14-year-old.
Immediately, I pointed out to my son what he easily could have missed (not only because he is a 14-year-old living in a sexually charged society, but also because he lacks some of the life experience and discernment that simply come as we age).
What I calmly asked my son was this, “Do you see how quickly he (Musburger) commented on her physical beauty? I wonder what he would have said if she had been average looking by the world’s standards. What do you think?”
I let that sink in for awhile.
The cameras would have gone to her regardless of what she looked like, because that’s what camera operators are instructed to do at big televised games like this. They find in the stands the family members, girlfriends, and spouses of key players.
And then they make a few comments about them.
In many regards, Musburger was simply doing his job, albeit he had a slight momentary lapse of judgment in the comments he chose.
My son began to see where I was going with this.
Our sexually-saturated society has put high stakes on outward physical beauty. Entire industries are built around looking beautiful.
Is it no wonder that our young people lose sight of more vital qualities like character, integrity and compassion when wondering if they “measure up” or if other people they encounter “measure up”?
I’m not saying that Katherine Webb isn’t all those things.
From the few interviews I’ve seen, she seems like a well-spoken and kind person. And certainly it’s not her fault that Musburger made comments about her physical appearance.
But what a wonderful teachable moment to be able to say to my son, “When you choose who to be in relationship with, pay closer attention to that person’s character than you do to their outward appearance.”
Am I saying physical attraction has no place?
Of course not.
We all intuitively know what we find physically attractive. Often, physical attributes are indeed the first attributes we encounter in a person.
But those pale in comparison to internal attributes, which are more consequential to the health and longevity of a relationship, whether we are talking about friendships, dating situations or marriages.
Don’t assume your pre-teens and teens get this.
Don’t assume they see clearly what you and I in our wisdom have grown to understand.
Don’t assume they, without some of your insight and guidance, can easily discern what it means to appreciate physical beauty and not at the same time put it at an ungodly level.
Don’t assume they are on auto-pilot internalizing the values you most want them to have.
Look for teachable moments often.
In our society, you won’t have to look far. Commercials. Advertisments. Entertainment. Real-life scenarios. Commentary from a sports announcer.
All offer opportunities — not for over-the-top lengthy lectures, but for authentic impactful dialogue about real issues that affect our kids.
Katherine Webb is strikingly gorgeous from a physical standpoint. My son easily grasped that (he is a 14-year-old boy, after all).
But I think because in that moment I intentionally engaged him in a brief conversation about internal character, I have broadened his perspective.
It’s one teachable moment. One deposit.
Are you making these kind of deposits in your kids? Each deposit adds up to a lot.
Your kids — and my kids — are worth it.
Copyright 2013, Jule Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage blog.